“Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus...This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self.” (CCC #2715)
The contemplative ponders the mysteries of the life of Christ, gazing at him while he gazes back. “His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men.” (CCC #2715)
Our inherited frail human condition elicited the compassion of Christ towards us. Christ, the Divine Physician, was compassionate toward the sick which was evident by the many cures of every kind through his power. “His compassion towards all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: “I was sick and you visited me.” (CCC #1503)
Christ calls all, particularly the contemplative, to this compassion. There is, however, a difference that exists between feeling compassion and having the strength of will to be compassionate and to act compassionately when this action is called for.
The Blessed Mother, our model of a true disciple of Christ, acted with compassion when she left her home to stay with Elizabeth for three months. Renouncing herself, she fixed her gaze on his truth seeing in her neighbor, Jesus. And again, at the Crucifixion, we see her there with her Son. She, despite the painful difficulty, remained there with him as he suffered; unwilling was she to leave him to do so alone. At the foot of the cross Mary suffered with Jesus. To “suffer with” is the root meaning of compassion.
Our actions of compassion bring comfort to those afflicted and to Christ himself.